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DELTA 2015: THE FACTORS AT PLAY By Augustine Avwode

October 31, 2012
Although 2015 is still about 30 months away, politicking is already underway across the country and this report examines the situation in Delta State.
DELTA State Governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan is only 18 months into his current tenure, but would-be successors have started jostling for tickets of the various political parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The governor ends his mandatory two-term tenure on May, 29, 2015. It promises to be as intense as it would be interesting to watch. The elections of 2015 will be determined largely by many factors, primary among which is the ability of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) to keep and maintain its preeminent position in the state and more importantly, maintain a united front. The PDP has ruled the state from 1999 when the country returned to the path of democratic governance with near absolute monopoly. However, the party felt the heat of the presence of the opposition in the April 2011 general election. But even at that, the governor still triumphed and subsequent court cases instituted by Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples Party ( DPP)’ the main opposition in the state have so far failed to change the situation. But the DPP made such a phenomenal showing, especially in most populous senatorial district, Delta Central, where it produced the only senator of the party throughout the country in the person of Senator Pius Ewherido. To that extent, it would be wise for the ruling party to reckon with the potential threat that the DPP poses to its fortunes in the state by ensuring that nothing is done to expose its flanks. Besides, the DPP has not given up its attempt to upturn the victory registered for Uduaghan by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Of particular importance in the 2015 contest will be power shift. The clamour is almost sending the roof out of the building for a governor of Anioma extraction to be elected in 2015 in the interest of equity, fairness and justice. The clamour among the Igbo speaking part of the state for the 2015 governorship ticket received a boost last week when traditional rulers and elders in Delta North Senatorial District threw their weight behind the quest. The royal fathers under the aegis of Anioma Congress at press conference in Asaba, the state capital, also said that the creation of Anioma State was not negotiable and would be pursued with the vigour and commitment that it deserved. The chairman of Secretariat of the congress and former Deputy Governor of Delta State, Sir Benjamin Elue, who addressed the conference, said the congress “will commence the sensitisation of our people with a mass rally” in Agbor. According to him, the programme will focus mainly on the “need for Anioma people to support the creation of Anioma State and in the event of not achieving that, to prepare to take over the governance of Delta State come 2015, through one of their own.” He highlighted the various dates and venues that the mobilisation train of Anioma Congress would berth in at the ethnic enclaves that make up Anioma nation, adding that the grand finale will be held on November 17, 2012 in Asaba. But will it be easy for Anioma to ensure that indeed, “ one of their own” emerges the governor after Uduaghan’s tenure?

If the state were to still maintain its uni- party status of the James Ibori days, when there was no visible opposition, it would have been as easy as agreeing to disagree among family members on any issue of importance. It helped in no small way to influence the outcome of the 2007 contest. Today, that has changed and that is why opposition from other ethnic groups especially the Urhobo in the Delta Central senatorial district, will make the quest by Anioma to Government House a bit challenging. Anioma ‘s claim to the top job is justifiably hinged on fairness, equity and justice. The most the zone has come is the deputy governor. Both the Central and the South Senatorial District would have had eight years each by 2015 since 1999. The same cannot be said of Delta North. When it was announced last week by the national secretary of the PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, that the party wishes to stick to its zoning policy, it was applauded by a political pressure group called the Anioma Agenda. Mr. Alex Onwuadiamu, the interim chairman of the group that is committed to the realisation of the governorship dream of the Anioma people in the Northern Senatorial District described it as sweet music to the ears of all minority groups in the country. Onwuadiamu, former secretary-general of the Anioma Political Forum, said the Aniomas had for long been nursing the governorship ambition, but never succeeded and 21 years of Delta State never held that position before.

He argues: “The governorship of Delta State has gone to central senatorial zone, it is now in the south senatorial zone and by that principle come 2015, and it will be the turn of Anioma people to produce the governor for Delta state that is all we are asking for”. Onwudiamu said no one political zone can win election in the State without the support of other groups, so the imperatives of working with other stakeholders cannot be discounted. He said: “How we will go about it is by consultation; we have said that we will consult with our brothers and sisters in the south and central, quite a lot of them are already working with us. We will mobilise our people, we will sensitise the entire populace on the need for equity and justice. Very soon there will be a lot of town hall meetings, seminars, symposia on this same issue. We are not just starting with a road show; we are consulting our people quietly and simultaneously. We are consulting various political stakeholders on the need for equity, unity and justice in our polity. It is not something we can do alone; Delta State is made up of three senatorial zones and if any zone, like we have seen in the last election, feels that it can do it alone, it will always meet with failure. That is why we will always seek for reasonable partnership from the south and central. That is how elections are won in Delta State. This one is not going to be an exception”.

Notwithstanding, the Urhobo group has not hidden its desire to reclaim the governorship position since Chief James Ibori left office and has left no one in doubt in that regard. Many groups have suddenly sprung up in the last few months. They include groups like Urhobo Political Forum (UPF), led by Chief Ighoyota Amori ,Urhobo Political Congress (UPC) headed by Sir Tom Amioku and the Delta Central Political Movement (DCPM) with Olori Magege as Protem Chairman. Interestingly, these are chieftains of the PDP and that is where the keeping the bonds of unity within the party is seen by many analysts as a key factor if it wishes to retain the governorship. Though the Central zone poses the most formidable threat to the PDP, it is held in many quarters that if the ruling party can read the writing on the wall correctly, and throws its weight behind a formidable candidate from the Anioma axis, with the support of the South Senatorial district, it stands the chance of preventing protest vote from a section of the state that is particular in producing the governor to satisfy the yearning for a sense of belonging. As for the South Senatorial district there is the allegation that the Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs,Elder Godsday Orubebe may be nursing the ambition to be the next y not help the cause of the Aniomas.

Unity as watchword

Analysts are of the view that for the Anioma dream to come true, the first step would be to forge a united front. They argue that a situation where there is a is considerable large number of wealthy and influential aspirants within the PDP who may refuse to step down for one another, may lead to another round of bitterness and rancor within the Party, a situation the PDP can I’ll afford. Although none has declared his intentions publicly, some big wigs have been linked with the top job. These include current Speaker of Delta legislature Victor Ochei, member representing Aniocha North, Ndudi Elumelu, member representing Aniocha/ Oshimili Federal constituency, Senator Arthur Okowa representing Delta North in the NASS, ex-presidential aide and ex-federal legislator, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, and Chief Godson Obielum. Also the current Chief of Staff to Governor Uduaghan and ex-Information Commissioner, Dr Festus Okubor is also said to be nursing a gubernatorial ambition. Others from different political parties are multi millionaire businessman Okocha and Democratic People’s Party candidate in the 2010 senatorial election Mr. Ned Nwoko. Political observers say this may not augur well for the zone asthese individuals will seek to out done one another. Of more importance is the fact that the chairman of the major opposition party, the DPP, Chief Tony Ezeagwu is an Anioma son.

He refused to be swayed by the zoning and rotation sentiments being held aloft by his brothers. He was quoted as delaring that his party will support any Deltan that emerges through a democratic process, stressing that DPP will not turn back any aspirant on the basis of ethnic consideration as the DPP does not recognise the principle of zoning within its ranks. His words, “Well, I am a man with a very broad mind. When you talk about Anioma people clamouring, I will not say what anybody is doing is wrong or right or I am supporting or not supporting. The issue is I am in DPP and the state chairman for that matter. You know that it has been clamoured long ago in PDP that Anioma man must be their candidate based on their zoning arrangement which I am not part of. As far I am concerned if an Anioma man comes to my party to take form, I will not deny him. And if an Urhobo man comes to take form, I will not deny him either because in my party there is no zoning arrangement for now, our party is open for all Deltans. What we believe in is not even who governs the state but who gives the people what they want, dividends of democracy. When you clamour Anioma, Anioma, Anioma, are you telling that Anioma people were not in Ibori’s government?

Besides, the determination of Ogboru to pursue his petition at the Supreme Court may also be a major decider. Analysts say whether Ogboru wins or not, if he maintains a constant presence in the state and imbues the opposition with equal visibility, like it was in the campaign and election days, he may exert a lot of influence on the outcome of the 2015 election. A chieftain of the DPP, who pleaded for anonymity, however, said most of the party faithful are not happy with the “vanishing act” which Ogboru is said to always exhibit immediately after elections. “He did it the other time; this time he has also done it it. He needs to be round to give presence of mind to the boys and followers in the state. People like the party in the state but it seems as if there is no formidable leadership”’ the source explained. Many people have also read meanings into what happened last Monday in the ongoing legal battle over the last governorship election. In what seemed a predetermined decision, Ogboru’s counsel, Sebastian Hon (SAN) had shockingly withdrawn Ogboru’s case, asking the Supreme Court to reverse its earlier decision which struck out Ogboru’s appeal against the decision of the appellate court.

A source in the state said the development would make the opposition more determined than ever. “The lawyer’s decision to withdraw the case came to many observers, especially Ogboru’s team of lawyers and supporters, as a rude shock given the lawyer’s upbeat mood and re-assurance just before the court hearing. Ogboru’s camp was dazed by this unhelpful decision as they had no intention to withdraw the case. There were also no orders to the lawyer to withdraw it. Hence their shock and anger over what appear to be an unprecedented complicity with the enemy more so when they (the Ogboru camp) were sure of winning the case. To many legal experts, the only way Ogboru could lose the case was if the case was not heard at all. Whatever the case is, the race to Government House Asaba has started and it will take more than just being the majority ethnic group or the appeal to the sentiment of zoning and rotation to win the race. The party that would win the race will the the cohesive one, the one that is able to balance the delicate political equation in the state that often than not exhibit the volatility of quicksilver and ethnic irredentism.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. belloibrahim618 permalink
    November 3, 2012 22:37

    i love your blog!please follow myn as well!thanx!www.belloibrahim.wordpress.com

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